What I mean by pool fence requirements is that the height, material, size and spacing specifications may vary with each insurance company. Most of the insurance conditions depend heavily on the locality in which the pool and fence is being installed.
It is very important to keep in mind that though the insurance provider or locality requires you to have a specific fence installed, you must also check with any Homeowner’s Association (HOA) and the Building Owners and Code Administrators (BOCA).
A growing number of people are aware of currecnt code which requires that a pool fences must be at least 48 inches tall. This is good, however some insurance companies recommend that you do at least a 6 foot high fence, if allowed by the HOA and your locality, in the hope of reducing any risks that may be associated with the insured’s pool. Additionally, many insurance companies require the homeowner to have a pool gate with a lock to keep unwelcome swimmers out. Gates of pools must also meet specific pool gate codes. Please note that if you have a fence that has been installed that does not meet BOCA, locality or HOA specifications your may required tearing it right back down.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
Spacing for fence cross bars (laterals) is another key issue for insurance companies and BOCA. Be aware of the 45-inch rule! Because pool owners are told they need at least a 48 inch tall fence they are often left unaware of the 45-inch minimum space separation on the lateral bars to be in compliance. This is only applicable if the vertical pickets are more than 2 inches but less than 4 inches apart. This may sound very vague, but the goal of this spec is to prohibit fence climbers form gaining a foothold to leap across the fence. If you are installing a spear top fence (right) to adhere to the 45-inch vertical spacing rule, you must actually install a 60 inch high fence to meet code. You could choose to have a flush bottom rail or a modified bottom rail, but just remember the spacing between the bottom rail and the middle rail must be at least 45-inches.
As always, there are exceptions to the 45-inch rule. Generally you must check your local codes to verify that this does indeed apply to you; if the spacing between the upright pickets is less than 2 inches, the rule no longer applies.
Are you totally confused yet? The Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) outline strong safety measures for swimming pool safety fences. Many communities have adopted these standards as their own in a effort to reduce and eliminate the possibility of drowning of children.
The most important things to remember when installing a pool fence are:
- The fence must be at least 48” tall
- The mid-rail must be at least 45” above the bottom rail
- The spacing between pickets must be less than 4”
- The spacing between the bottom rail and the ground must be less than 4”
- The gates must be self-closing and self latching
- The gate needs to open out and away from the pool area
- The opening mechanism must be at least 54” above ground.
If you keep all of the above in mind you should have no problem installing your pool fence. Additionally, a professional pool or fence company in your community should be able to direct you in the proper fence installation. Make them do their job to protect your pocket, your family, and the neighborhood children by meeting the sometimes stringent local and insurance pool fence codes.
Article contributed by fence professional Tina Parrish.